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NSW LGBTIQ hate crime inquiry: the recommendations

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An inquiry into LGBTIQ hate crimes in NSW has delivered its final report. It made 19 recommendations for the police to correct historic bias.
NSW LGBTIQ hate crime

A landmark review by the Special Commission of Inquiry into LGBTIQ hate crimes in NSW has concluded with a final report.

The inquiry looked into unsolved deaths in NSW, suspected to be motivated by LGBTIQ hate crimes, between 1970 and 2010.

The final report made 19 recommendations for NSW Police, including mandatory LGBTIQ community education.

The inquiry

The inquiry focused on the police’s investigation into deaths of people from, or presumed to be from, the LGBTIQ community.

It found multiple instances of missing documents, “lost or destroyed” exhibits, and “serious” and “concerning” shortfalls in the police’s handling of some investigations.

The Commissioner (who led the inquiry) Justice John Sackar described the police’s participation in the inquiry as “adversarial” and “unnecessarily defensive”.

Police reform

The final report recommended police become better informed about how to engage with the LBGTIQ community through ongoing, mandatory training.

The inquiry raised concerns about the police’s previous use of “disrespectful and unacceptable” language when referring to some of the deceased victims. Justice Sackar said: “Many of these examples are historical, although there have arisen some contemporary instances of homophobia or insensitivity.”

Part of the training would look at the importance of cultural awareness and
use of inclusive language.

The inquiry heard various instances of botched handling of evidence and some signs of anti-LGBTIQ bias among police officers investigating these deaths.

It recommended a comprehensive overhaul of the Unsolved Homicide Team (UHT) to update its practices and improve record-keeping.

It also wants police to use modern DNA analysis to look into unsolved homicides in NSW, including at least three cases heard in the LBGTIQ inquiry.

Re-opening cases

The Commissioner recommended at least four unsolved cases become the subject of a further inquest — where a court can hear new evidence relating to a person’s death.

Fresh evidence and analysis were raised during the inquiry in the cases of:

  • Paul Rath (died 1977)
  • Richard Slater (died 1980)
  • Carl Stockton (died 1996)
  • Scott Miller (died 1997)

Government response

NSW Premier Chris Minns said the State Government will “thoroughly consider” the final report and acknowledged the LBGTIQ community has suffered “unimaginable injustice”.

NSW Independent MP Alex Greenwich, a gay man, urged police to take the opportunity to implement reforms.

“Police and others treated us as second-class citizens and denied us justice because of who we love. The sad reality is many of these laws still exist today,” said Greenwich.

“The attacks committed against sexuality and gender diverse people have left a painful legacy for the loved ones of victims, survivors, their families, and the entire community — all compounded by the slow and inadequate responses to many of these crimes.”

Nicholas Parkhill, Chief Executive of ACON, a leading LBGTQIA+ health group.

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